A former Ottawa prison guard experienced a homophobic and “poisonous” work atmosphere, Ontario’s Grievance Settlement Board has found.
Robert Ranger has been on long-term disability since 2002, has felt suicidal and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
A Jan 18 decision upheld a complaint filed against the corrections ministry that it allowed harassment against Ranger to continue unchecked from 1998 to 2002. During that time, Ranger worked at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre. When he left, it took 18 months for prison officials to begin investigating his complaints.
A recent 72-page conclusion names guard Mark Grady, who was president of the correctional services OPSEU Local 411, as Ranger’s chief bully. The report states:
“The investigator examined three complaints against Mr Grady of alleged discrimination, harassment and poisoned work environment on the grounds of sexual orientation. Specific allegations included that the respondent 1) simulated sex acts to taunt the grievor, 2) repeated the word “cocksucker” in a manner that was not part of a conversation but in the presence of the grievor and 3) made sexual jokes during a training session on Feb 11, 2002, at the expense of the grievor.”
“It is the union’s position that Mr Ranger suffered harassment and discrimination based on his sexual orientation, which was condoned by the employer… the employer did almost nothing to change the environment. The union claims that even when Mr Ranger made a complaint after an incident on Feb 11, 2002, which led to the grievor going off on sick leave, the employer failed to investigate until 18 months after the event. When the report of the investigation substantiated some of the allegations made by the grievor, the employer did nothing to address the workplace environment. The union submits that because of the harassment and discrimination, the grievor became ill and was away from work from Feb 2002 until Mar 2005.”
In a phone interview from his home, Ranger claims the ministry minimized what happened to him.
“The process diminishes what happened because it’s taken so long to get settled. I remember hoping I’d get hit by a bus. I complained to my employer and they turned their backs. They did nothing about it. I fell sick. They still didn’t do anything about it until a year and a half after I left,” says Ranger.
At his lawyer’s advice, Ranger says he cannot comment until the appeals process is complete.
“If you read the decision, everything you want to know is there. My lawyer said this is not final. There may come a time in the near future I want to speak with you. I will contact you whenever the day comes,” says Ranger.